Recruiter: what do you matter to your candidates?

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What is our responsibility to our candidates?

In the veritable trinity of hiring; hirer, candidate and stakeholder where does our ethical loyalties lie? Topic of a recent conversation where I and a fellow recruiting professional debated the impact we have on our each and every one of the candidates we engage with.

This came about as we chatted about the state of recruiting and our role as recruiter representing the our profession. We often get bandied with a bad rep along the lines of an estate agent (no offence estate agents the recent selling showed a 50/50 ratio great versus poor). We came to the conclusion that this wasn’t entirely unwarranted, there are great recruiters but there are also a lot that really aren’t great. Is this through lack of technical training, for the most part no. More often it lies with the emotional intelligence of us to understand and empathise with the individual people they are.

I have previously written about placing the care back into careers but I would like to revisit this but go abit deeper to how our relationship with a candidate matters. It matters because all our touch points can dramatically affect that person and their career. Impact what and how?

How about confidence?

That candidate you didn’t bother returning calls to. I still hear almost 20 years on in my recruiting career candidates experience a “wall of silence”. I know candidates ghost recruiters too but the economic balance here is weighted in our corner and we aren’t placing our careers in their hands. Respecting that at any stage of the hiring process we should keep in contact. Because without our side of the recruiting relationship candidates will come to question and doubt themselves often resulting in long term impact on confidence. Especially in our more remote working age, these natural human interaction points are greatly reduced, so when we do interact we feel it more.

Secondly, there is the question of trust between candidate and recruiter and doesn’t matter whether it is agency or in house, our canddiates inherently place trust in us, let alone with their data, personal information and as importatnly future careers. With trust comes natural expectation. We enter into what is similar in coaching to a contact of psychological safety where candidates have a safe space to talk about all elements of their career and the personal that entwins with it.

We could say that our interest is only with the professional so its not relevant to know about family, physical and mental health, their work/life balance. So often a candidate will share far more with you than sometimes even people close to them don’t know. The person that wants to work 4 days a week becuase they need to build consistent time for mental health therapies in the short term. The person who relives the details of their painful experience of being made redundant or someone that is having to explain a desire to change how they work from self employed to employee because their business had to close during the pandemic and they need consistent and secure work. These are hardly unusual scenarios but do we think beyond the next phone call to the client or stakeholder and imagine the impact securing the role will have on them, their health, their wealth, their career direction and their confidence. On a basic level this is about confirdentiality but further than this it is about empathy and understanding. That what you say, how you behave will have a lasting impression and possible impact. So…..

the next time you hestiate to pick up the phone to call back….don’t! Make the call and be more honest

the next time you make light of someone’s lack of commitment to the process because they have asked about flexibility think and ask why?

the next time you rush feedback, pause go back and logically and specifically craft and share feedback, start with the good but please don’t shy away from the bad. Be constructive, be specific in giving examples, be an expert and offer advice as to how they can be better.

the next time you find a candidate sharing about their whole lives, listen and listen well because the better you understand them the better you can match them to a role.

Yes the product in recruiting is the candidate themselves and I wish there was more transparency around this but fundamentally it is also about people and people have lives. You never know that one detail might just be the USP for your client or stakeholder that seals the deal.